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WIRE Buzz: D&D & Magic: The Gathering educator kits; Witcher actor reads first novel

By Josh Weiss

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Wizards of the Coast has decided to send out 2,000 free digital kits to libraries and educators across the United States and Canada. The kits are full of "resources to engage their communities with Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering virtual play while many are practicing social distancing," reads the release.

“Right now, play, imagination and connection with the people you care about are more important than ever,” Nathan Stewart, VP of the Dungeons & Dungeons franchise, said in a statement. “With these resources, we want give back to communities and make it as easy as possible for as many people to roll with advantage during this difficult time.”

Each kit includes the following:

  • A Legendary Bundle for D&D Beyond that unlocks access to all current rules and adventure content for D&D
  • A 15% discount on future D&D Beyond purchases and 30 Magic: The Gathering Arena digital codes, which can be redeemed for three Ikoria booster packs
  • Tips to help teachers and librarians engage their audiences in a virtual play environment
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You can apply for one right here, so long as you're over 18 and a bona fide employee or volunteer who represents gaming at "enrichment organizations" like schools, libraries, community centers, and scout troops.

Wizards of the Coast also has online portals such as Stay at Home, Play at Home, which is updated daily with tips for remote play; and the DM’s Guild, a PDF web store with thousands of adventures for all editions of D&D.

Ease into the weekend with a soothing read of Andrzej Sapkowski's first Witcher novel by Joey Batey, the actor who plays the bard Jaskier in the Netflix TV adaptation.

"For those of you who have not read the books, I think it's important that I let you know that Jaskier's name in the English book is Dandelion," says Batey by way of introduction.

Take a look (and a listen) below:

A second season of The Witcher (starring Henry Cavill in the titluar role) is already in production, although filming in the United Kingdom was halted due to the pandemic.

An anime film based on the novels is also in the works.

Deadline reports that Sony Pictures is working on an English-language film adaptation of the best-selling Japanese novel If Cats Disappeared From the World by Genki Kawamura. Kit Steinkellner, creator of Facebook Watch's Sorry for Your Loss, has been tapped to pen the screenplay.

The book follows a postman who learns that he's only got a few months to live. Estranged from his family, he lives alone with his cat, Cabbage, and prepares to start filling out his bucket list. Before that can happen, however, the postman is visited by the Devil, who offers him an additional day of life every time a certain object is removed from reality.

Kit Steinkellner cats

What follows is a "very strange week that brings the young postman and his beloved cat to the brink of existence," reads the synopsis provided by Deadline. "With each object that disappears, the postman reflects on the life he’s lived, his joys and regrets, and the people he’s loved and lost. It is a story of loss and reconciliation, and of one man’s journey to discover what really matters most in life."

Kawamura (who produced acclaimed anime releases like Weathering With You and Mirai) is producing alongside Toho, Masi Oka (Heroes), and Peter Rabbit vets Will Gluck and Jodi Hildebrand.